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How to Make a Yeast Starter

Know How to Make a Yeast Starter to Create Your Own Signature Beer

A yeast starter is required if you want to brew your own beer or are thinking of making sourdough bread. In this article, we will take a look at the procedure for making a yeast starter.
Rimlee Bhuyan
Last Updated: Jan 27, 2018
Yeast is an important ingredient in baking as well as making alcoholic beverages. In baked goods, yeast acts as a leavening agent that helps the bread or any other baked product to rise. It makes the baked products light, soft and fluffy. In alcoholic beverages, during the fermentation process, yeast converts the sugar into carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol. If you are keen to brew your own beer, then in addition to yeast and other necessary supplies, you will need a yeast starter.
A yeast starter is required during the brewing process so that the fermentation of the beer starts as soon as possible. A yeast starter not only helps in starting the fermentation process but it also protects the beer from being contaminated. You need to make your yeast starter two to three days before you actually brew the beer. Here we will take you through the steps on making a yeast starter.
Making a Yeast Starter for Beer
Things required
  • Glass jug
  • Candy thermometer
  • Rubber stopper
  • Saucepan with a lid
  • Yeast
  • Dry malt extract
  • Airlock
  • Commercial Sanitizer

Make the Unfermented Beer
The first thing that you need to do when brewing beer, is to make the unfermemted version of the beer. This is known as the "wort". To make the wort, combine one part of the dry malt extract with two part water in a saucepan, and heat it. Bring this mixture to a boil and place a lid over the saucepan to avoid too much evaporation. Once the mixture has boiled for 5-6 minutes, remove it from the flame.
Cool the Unfermented Beer
Once the wort has come to a boil for over 5 minutes, remove the mixture from the flame and allow it to cool. You should place the lid over the saucepan while waiting for the mixture to cool to avoid contaminating it. Take a look at the yeast packet to check the required temperature recommendation written on it. The wort needs to be cooled down to this temperature before you can add the yeast to it.
Sterilize all Equipment
All the equipment that are involved in making the yeast starter needs to be sterilized to avoid the risk of contamination. Sterilize the candy thermometer, the airlock and the rubber stopper by placing them in a bowl and filling it with commercial sanitizer. Make sure that you sterilize the mouth of the glass jug too.
Check the Temperature of the Wort
Next you need to check if the wort has cooled down to the required temperature by placing the sterilized candy thermometer into the saucepan. If the wort has cooled down to the required temperature you can proceed to the next step, otherwise you need to wait a while.
Transfer Wort and Add Yeast
Pour the cooled wort into the sterilized jug slowly and carefully to avoid any spillage. Slowly add the liquid yeast into the jug of wort. Next place the airlock into the stopper that you have sterilized earlier. Jam the stopper tightly into the mouth of the jug. Now shake the jug with the wort so that air bubbles are formed. For additional information on brewing beer, read the Tastessence article how to brew beer at home.
Fill and Cap the Airlock
To protect against any risk of contamination and thus ruining the yeast starter, fill the airlock with boiled and cooled water. It is essential that you use boiled and cooled water and not just tap water to fill the airlock. Once you are done filling the airlock with water, screw the cap of the airlock tight. Place the glass jar with the wort in a cool and dry place.
After a day or two, you will notice a lot of activity inside the glass jar in the form of bubbles. There will also be a thick deposit on the bottom of the jar which is the yeast. Your yeast starter is ready and you can use it to ferment a batch of beer or lager.
This is how you make a yeast starter. Using a yeast starter is a foolproof way of ensuring that your beer ferments more vigorously and quickly. Now that you know how to make a yeast starter, you can brew a batch of beer quickly without waiting around for the yeast to act on it.